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Triumph and....Not Quite [May. 1st, 2012|04:47 pm]
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Blue One, the second pair of socks I ever knit, is now off the needles, but not yet ready to wear, thanks errors.

However, it's been on my feet for an hour now:

If you think there's something odd about the toes, and notice dangling strands of're right.    I grafted (Kitchener stitch) the toes, but...I can't get the loopy bits to agree to snug down.  Not sure why.  Aside from that,  some parts of the socks are still a little large:

But until I get the loopy/bulky  toes fixed, I can't wear this pair for real walking, etc.  Supposedly, you can start pulling the loops snug on the starting side of the grafting, and work your way across, but I can't find one on that end that will pull.   Here are the toes:


The right toe's better than the left.   You can at least see on the right one that the stitches should flow right across the toe end.  But  I started on the left one and was interrupted repeatedly, each time losing my concentration for long enough to make a mistake.   
Undoing the mistakes and trying to redo them was not only frustrating, but made the yarn fray and fuzz (it didn't help that two of the interruption-errors involved splitting the yarn with the strand I was using for grafting.

Another error, not caused by interruptions, was that I made the left toe slightly too short.  Just enough that I "feel" the end of the sock all the time.   To make up for that, the right one's just a little long.  Learning experiences, I tell myself.  On the whole, the socks fit better than before, though.  The slightly snugger cuff does leave an impression on my leg (so, no tighter!) but nothing like the dug-in groove that store-bought socks with their elastic leave.

These socks do have a left and right--and when I can do grafting better, I'll like that a lot.  My big toes don't like even gentle knit-sock-tension pushing them toward the center of my foot.   This way I make the sock straight up the "inside" or medial  side, with a curve on the outer or lateral side.

Next up: Green One, the first green pair.    And I'll put a pair of...probably red....on the needles tonight or tomorrow.


[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-05-01 10:30 pm (UTC)


Whoops. I was wondering if you could somehow shrink them down to the right size, but for the one toe touching. I can see how interruptions in concentration would be detrimental. I think of knitting as drawing a picture with one continuous line, rarely lifting the pencil.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-01 10:40 pm (UTC)


I'm far enough along now that I can handle interruptions when doing plain knitting--ribbing, stockinette, garter stitch--but not when doing the tricky bits of socks. Don't talk to me while I'm turning the heels. And don't BREATHE loudly, slam a door, or stir the ice in your tea (clinking the spoon against the glass) when I'm trying to finish the toes. Above all--the phone should not ring. At all. But it did. With chirpy cheery voices on the other end.

[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-05-02 07:59 am (UTC)


Aww hehe.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-05-01 11:55 pm (UTC)

What a beautiful shade of blue!


I can see how the asymmetry might be frustrating, but I was taught that the only "incorrect" stitch was a split stitch -- and it's hard not to split a few when you're interrupted while grafting, so I can't criticize you there (although a few days of work on the green socks, doing mundane ribbing may make it easier for you to see where to tighten up any loose bits, etc.).

Best of all, to my mind, is the forgiving nature of knitwear. You now have two nearly identical versions of almost perfect -- and you can use them to make the next pair even better. The real wonder of wool, to my mind, though, is that it tends to stretch and bend around any particular body part, and before you know it, they fit better than you ever could have imagined.

And in a beautiful shade of blue!
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 02:29 am (UTC)

Re: What a beautiful shade of blue!


Hi--and could you please introduce yourself? I know some people have to post as Anonymous, but I'd really like to have a name (in the faint hope of remembering it--but I do, eventually.)

Yes, I love the fact that even when something's a little wonky, the socks still function as socks. (That first red pair, with all their mistakes and problems...I wear them. My feet want to stay in them.)

I'm glad you like the blue. I wasn't sure at first, but the more I worked with it, the more I liked it. (I bought it off the internet and the picture didn't look as teal-like as it is--I thought it was a good mid-range "plain" blue.) it really is pretty.
[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2012-05-02 12:14 am (UTC)


Congratulations on your latest pair of socks! :)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 02:31 am (UTC)


Thanks! I need to have three pair by A-Kon...four would be better, but three is essential. I should be able to do the green ones by then, but no real hope of doing two pair, not with the other stuff coming up.
[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2012-05-02 02:53 am (UTC)


Knitting to a deadline is hard sometimes. I had to cut short my latest project because I needed to get it to my mum-in-law in time for Mother's Day and a party she wanted to wear it to.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-05-02 12:17 am (UTC)

Toe decreases


Please don't publish this if it sounds like a criticism.

I think I just figured out something I've noticed about both your red socks and your blue socks that's been catching my attention.

Have you ever heard of short row decreases?

I realize that they may seem a bit arcane, but I've noticed a clear line on both sides of the decreases for the toe, because I think you've been doing paired decreases, resulting in a hard line of decreases (which might form enough of a ridge to be uncomfortable and to make the final grafting less smooth than you'd like since you've essentially taken a three-dimensional object and forced it into two flat objects with rigid sides, then sewn them together at the end.

Short row decreases are another form of grafting two flat objects together, but, because there's no hard line of decreases, they tend to feel much more organic (although they definitely require a bit more concentration to knit and to graft). The important difference is that there shouldn't be any clear line visible after you do the grafting that makes the toes three-dimensional, and there shouldn't be any line of decreases to put pressure on the sides of the toes as you wear your beautiful socks.

Just a thought. Please feel free to disregard as your mileage varies!
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 02:25 am (UTC)

Re: Toe decreases


Hi--could you please introduce yourself? I know some people have to post as Anonymous, but I'm more comfortable with names, even screen names.

I have heard of short row decreases but that's it--just "heard of." You're right, I'm using paired decreases, as my mother did it on the sock she made me (the one complete survivor out of the two pair) and as I've read about. The paired decreases didn't bother me in the socks she made me (but she was a superb knitter) and don't bother me in the red socks, or in the longer blue--only in the shorter one. These seem to flatten out after one wearing.

But I like what you're saying about "no clear line visible." OTOH, what you're saying about "require a bit more concentration to knit and to graft" may exceed my ability to concentrate, given other circumstances. Look what a botch I made of the toe grafting this time! I still blame the interruptions (because the one sock I got to do with no interruptions is almost nearly OK) but that's my life...I can't count on hours of clear time (and if I could, I'd have to be working on a book.)

The other consideration is that my big toes turn up at the end. So the paired decreases (when not too snug) make a kind of box (and I like shoes with a real toe box for this reason too.) How do you calculate for the depth/vertical rise of a toe that turns up? (I think I need a plaster model of my foot to work with!)

[User Picture]From: meirwen
2012-05-02 01:24 am (UTC)


My socks kept running "a bit large" so I dropped the needles down one step from the stipulated ones in the directions, and they've been fitting fine since. You might try that. (And I have to "relearn" Kitchener Stitch" every time. I hate it, but haven't been able to come up with a superior way to close the toes. *sigh*)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 02:16 am (UTC)


I don't exactly have directions. I started with: 1) a sock my mother made me in about 1969 or 1970 (the survivor of two pairs) that is now somewhat tight, because...well...Life. 2) Some pictures online and some videos online. 3) The book _Knitting Rules_ by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, which has a basic "here's how to approach knitting a sock" section. I also had a foot (mine own!) and--to start with--4 size 5 DPNs inherited from my mother. The foot came with differences from the "standard sock"--or rather, the leg did, by being wider than it should be for the foot, due to...well...Life. Thus the standard sock, with the same number of stitches on the cuff as on the foot...wouldn't work for me.

In other words, I winged it, using what I had the night the barrier broke and I started the first sock. (Oh, I had also lost my one tape measure before this adventure started, so I couldn't exactly measure my leg and foot circumferences the usual way.) I'm considering dropping the needle size once I get to the foot (having now bought some size 4s) but I haven't done a gauge swatch with 4s yet, because But I don't want the ribbed cuffs any snugger than they are now. I think a couple of decreases--maybe 4 stitches down, maybe only 2--between the ribbing and the foot--would get the job done. Depends on what the size 4s do to the sizing. For me, slightly big is better than slightly too snug.

[User Picture]From: xrian
2012-05-02 02:11 am (UTC)


There's a thing called a three-needle bind-off that closed the toes of socks for a few centuries before it went out of fashion.

Chief drawback: if done with the stocking toe wrongside-out (the traditional way) it leaves a seam ridge on the inside. You may prefer to do it with the sock rightside-out.

For some people, it helps to take their stitches-to-be-Kitchenered off the needles and put them on flexible threads instead. This lets them relax and lie flat (imagine a row of capital U's and below them a row of the same thing upside-down). To my mind this makes it much easier to lace them together correctly on the first try.

It may also be worth combing the Internet till you find a diagram that makes sense to you. There are a lot of different ways this stitch can be presented and one may "click" if others don't.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 02:36 am (UTC)


I'd definitely prefer to have the seam ridge outside. I wear the heavy commercial ragg-wool hiking socks inside out for that reason (but now I can't wear them because of all the elastic and the narrow cuffs.)

I understand how the Kitchener stitch is supposed to work--my problem is in handling the yarn loops. Every source warns not to tighten the stitches too much to start with, to tighten them later...but when moving from needle to needle, the loops that form tend to hang in the wrong place, and the needles impede both my sight and my attempt to move the loops where they should go. (Add in aging eyesight, a cataract growing in one eye, and hand cramps.) I *like* the idea of taking the stitches off the needles and putting them on something else...that would definitely make it easier for me. Thank you!
[User Picture]From: xrian
2012-05-02 02:34 pm (UTC)


I know exactly what you mean! Don't pull the Kitchener stitches *tight* until you're done, but it's okay to pull them enough that they are not drooping all over and getting in the way.

Also, be very careful not to split the yarn, which effectively prevents you from loosening or tightening anything (you may want to use the fattest yarn needle you can find).

If the stitches are lying flat, then the concept of Kitchener is much easier: you go DOWN through one stitch and UP through its neighbor on the same side. Then go back to the stitch on the other side that you just came out of, go DOWN through that stitch and UP through its neighbor. I find down and up much easier to remember than whether to go through a stitch from right to left or left to right.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 02:58 pm (UTC)


The stitches lying flat would also make it easier to deal with my real problem, which is ensuring that the crossing loops--when you go from needle to needle--do not tangle (and reduce me to near screaming frustratin when I'm trying to gently snug them in or even (!!) get the right tension to start with. Even when I try to snug them a little (just to get them to go straight across) they catch on the "corner" of the work and tend to "hop" (if they move at all) only partway to where they should be. I can't clearly see what's going on, the needles are in my way,'s headache/shoulder-cramp/stomach-churning time. The sequence isn't the's managing the materials.
[User Picture]From: ozdragonlady
2012-05-02 10:59 am (UTC)


Check your mail box :)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 01:57 pm (UTC)


Not finding anything yet (well...spam, friend's agreement to meet for lunch tomorrow, announcement of comment arrival here and elsewhere...but not what you had in mind, I'll bet.) Will keep an eye out today. Friend's earlier email on the lunch never got here, so there may be a glitch in the Overnet somewhere.
[User Picture]From: ozdragonlady
2012-05-03 01:58 pm (UTC)


no, your mail box in town :)
[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2012-05-02 02:25 pm (UTC)


Right foot sock is fabulous - yes, the split stitch spoils the left-foot one, but you knew that, and also, I think, you have pulled the stitches a little too tightly on that one. Kitchener Stitch - just called "grafting" in British English - is very difficult, but do persevere as it's so worth getting right for things like shoulders of sweaters. You may find yourself less inclined to split your yarn if you use a plastic wool needle rather than a metal one. Whatever you do, don't use a needle with a sharp point!

I believe one can knit socks from the toe up, using what's known as a "magic cast-on" or the related "Turkish cast-on", which forms a tube right from the start and no need for any fiddly grafting at the end.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-02 02:53 pm (UTC)


The left foot--the one with the worse join--is one where I did NOT pull the stitches tight at all. I left little loops. Then (thanks to interruptions) I made mistakes and had to work back to the original stitches twice--which made the yarn fuzzy. The loops entangled themselves and I can't see well enough--even in bright light--to figure out what connects to what or how to untangle them. That's why the mess. The split stitch events (two of them) were undone by unthreading the yarn needle and pulling the thread through to clear them--one source of fuzziness.

I know toe-up knitting is possible. But I have reasons for wanting to knit cuff-down and thus learning to make good toes is essential.
From: geekmerc
2012-05-02 07:02 pm (UTC)


You realize that by your fifth pair, you will have perfected socks for your feet. Then you can try making moccasins. Okay, those aren't knitting. :)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-04 02:47 pm (UTC)


Five pairs, huh? OK, that'll work. Since I can wear the pairs I have now (imperfect as they are) I don't consider that wool wasted.

Making moccasins...the thought has occurred. When I was in junior high and high school, the local grocery store (not a chain) carried moccasins made by ???? and hung on a pole-rack. I loved them. (My mother was less than thrilled by my approach to foot-fashion, but I had very long, very narrow feet that most shoes did not fit--we had to order mine for years--and moccasins were comfortable. Yes, they looked sloppy (her term) feet were happy. So I have thought of making moccasins for myself. OTOH, now there are comfortable shoes that fit me (with homemade socks!) and offer more protection from cactus, stinging and biting things, and sharp rocks.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-05-04 06:05 am (UTC)

Worry not!


My name is Karen, aka Anonymous, and I dearly hope you haven't taken any of my comments as criticism.

I was very disturbed to see your Twitter note that you felt the need to go to the local knit store for advice, not because I don't think that's a good solution, but because I have faith in the magic of knitwear to solve your problems for you (even though there are a number of tricks that experienced knitters in-a-shop-or-not can show-rather-that-tell that are invaluable).

Truth be told, my first knitting projects were not really worthy of preservation for future generations (in fact, hard as it was to give them away -- because I was precocious in my own sense of pride), most of them, if they still exist, are moth-eaten carcasses, restyled to fit someone else's sense of fashion.

I remember one in particular (my first sweater, in fact) where I mismeasured both my knitting gauge and the length of the armholes, so that the sweater ended up needing extra-wide seams below the armhole, and very strange adjustments to the sleeves to make them fit the human body.

My mother, who received the sweater for Christmas, wore it faithfully for years. I don't know what became of it except that it was one of the best learning experiences I have ever had, since she's the one who encouraged me to press on, and came up with the wide seams and helped me adjust the pattern for the sleeves so that it actually fit -- to a degree to which she was sufficiently proud that she wore if often and bragged about how her daughter had made it for her.

The needle-weaving for which I endeavored to suggest solutions is very likely to work itself out in the wash, even without your attempts to even the stitches (a bit of hair conditioner -- the cheaper the better) should help smooth the barbs on the wool and help the stitches stretch to fit where needed and relax where they're not.

If worst comes to worst, if you happen to have a shoe stretcher (or a boot stand will work in a pinch), the chances are that you can block the sock into obedience by simply misting the sock and padding the form until it matches your foot.

In other words, happy knitting -- and good courage!
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-05-04 03:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Worry not!


Karen, please don't worry (giving your own advice back.) I haven't taken your comments as criticism. When I don't answer a thread, I'm often just busy--I have limited time to respond to comments (and other blogs to "service"--just wrote a long reply on a thread in the Paksworld blog.) I appreciate all helpful suggestions--some I may try and discard, others (like the one early on in the sock-knitting project which recommended working on two socks at a time) I try and like. I know I'm a relative novice (less a novice than two pairs of socks ago!) But I'm also stubborn as rock and not easily discouraged.

I spent the immediate waking up time this morning starting a gauge/tension/swatch/square on the next size down needles, to see if I wanted to try the suggestion of dropping a needle size between the cuff ribbing and the rest of the sock to adjust size of the foot without more decreases. Dunno yet, but I do know that using even one size smaller needles (size 4 US) is less comfortable in my hands. By the end of the swatch I'll know if that's bearable for that much of a sock. Last night I worked on the GreenOne pair (still on cuff ribbing) including a couple of mistakes I'd made while knitting yesterday at lunch (long post-eating conversation with friends--and sure enough had managed to add some stitches without noticing. Sometime today will cast on the pair after GreenOne (RedTwo.) So even though I grump (on Twitter or here or elsewhere) about the mistakes I make, and would love to produce perfect socks every time RightThisInstant, I'm not about to quit knitting (socks or anything else I want.) (But I'm also not about to quit grumping about my mistakes, either. Part of being a stubborn old woman.)

Going off to work on the book now, between bouts of doing laundry and hanging it out and trying to get the kitchen in order.